RAYMOND - Pedigree Cats is not just another pet store. In fact the Raymond-based company doesn't sell felines at all; rather it is a company that manufactures and sells multi-million dollar "cats" of the two-hulled variety - custom built catamarans - to customers all over the world.
Kelli and Gary Habersetzer are owners and operators of Pedigree Cats and over the past 30 years have built 30 of the big boats, Gary estimates. "Gary makes it all happen," Kelli says. He is the mover and shaker behind the construction of the top-of-the-line catamarans.
Kelli, a computer programmer, is responsible for their Web page (www.PedigreeCats.com) that includes everything from product information and pricing to directions to Raymond. The Web page is the store front and the office for the company and has been since 1995 when "there weren't too many companies online" according to Kelli.
Currently Pedigree is working on two catamarans, one with a sail and one that is power only. The cat with sail will cost about $1.8 million and has been under construction for several years because the group of people who ordered it put the project on hold. It can be seen from Highway 101 just southwest of Raymond.
"We pre-sell all of our catamarans and bill weekly," Kelli explains.
The catamaran will have an 80-foot mast and will have a home port in Costa Rica. Kelli says, "We will use extra carbon fiber for strength because of the mast. By adding the sail the cost will increase by about $350,000." A one-quarter inch wide piece of carbon fiber that is one-eighth thick has the tensile strength of 12,500 pounds she says and that is the material that adds the strength to the vessel without adding a great deal of weight.
The cat the company is working on inside is a power-only craft and is destined for the Tennessee River. The construction could be far less expensive since it won't be an ocean-going craft, except for one detail. It must be delivered from the Willapa River, through the Panama Canal, and then up the Mississippi, so it is "designed accordingly," Kelli says.
The catamaran hulls are constructed using Airex foam core, E-glass, Kevlar, carbon fiber, and vinylester or epoxy resins with Imron exteriors. The vessels are the latest in high-tech luxury and are becoming very popular because of the more comfortable ride compared to a mono-hull boat. They meet or exceed all American Bureau of Shipping and American Boat and Yacht Council standards and have been approved by such insurance companies as Lloyd's of London.
Kelli describes the craft as "Dixie cups" and says that "lighter is better" when constructing a catamaran. Wood is used only where a cleat or anchor base is needed and only masts, counter tops and plumbing fixtures are not made of foam products. "Our power boats can cruise at 15 knots and reach speeds of 25 knots and those with sails are a bit slower," Kelli explains. The 55 foot craft weigh about 20,000 pounds. They have a draft of 30 inches and the two boats under construction are powered by twin 200-horse power Yanmar motors.
The two cats now under construction are expected to be completed in the next few months and launched into the Willapa with a large crane. Work on the latest order will then begin and it will be a 65-foot cat, one of the largest catamarans Pedigree has built. The company plans on adding a 50 by 120 foot building in the near future to the site at Port of Willapa Harbor. Pedigree Cats employs a technical writer and purchaser, and eleven master carpenters and ship builders.
"The choices for our customers can be overwhelming," Kelli says. "We first ask the customer about their needs, then determine size and hull style. We then refer them to a designer." Designers are from Austria and Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain, and from Seattle.
Pedigree keeps in close contact with the designer and customer throughout the manufacturing process. The purchasers from Tennessee visit Raymond every couple of months, Kelli says, but some buyers never see their multi-million dollar craft until it is delivered. Hulls can be completed within seven months and finished cats can be delivered in about a year. A 55-foot boat is estimated to cost $840,000, but the average customer adds amenities to make the final price $1.3 million.
Some of the amenities include marble counter tops, washer and dryers, dishwasher and trash compactors, and hot tubs. Some have added landing areas for Zodiac-type boats. Practical items such as generators and water makers are available and more lavish accessories such as faucet handles with gold trim can run as much as $800 apiece. "We are definitely at the high end of composite construction catamarans," Kelli says.
Pedigree has sold cats to customers in Dubois, China, Israel, and the Virgin Islands. One request was for a 105-foot cat that would have a landing dock in one of the hulls for a submarine. Another inquiry came from the Canadian government for a 105-foot trimaran design that would be large enough to support a floating concert hall. Both orders did not come to fruition, however as cost became the issue.
As a shipment of supplies arrives at the Raymond site, Kelli steps in and helps an employee to move a large workbench to a more convenient place. A minute before she was inspecting containers of resin with a $100 price tag. Gary is intently communicating via e-mail and also tended to an RV renter at business's private site that is not open to the public.
Kelli and Gary are obviously hands-on owners with great pride in Pedigree Cats while having their fingertips on the pulse of their world-wide enterprise situated on the banks of the Willapa.